Saturday, July 4, 2020

REVIEW: 'Hanna' - Hanna Shows Her Skills in the Field and Then Helps Sandy Process Her Emotions in 'A Way to Grieve'

Amazon's Hanna - Episode 2.05 "A Way to Grieve"

Marissa is imprisoned in The Meadows, while Hanna is encouraged to embrace her new identity as Mia Wolff. But doing so requires grieving for Erik, which Terri helps accelerate.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Amazon's Hanna.

"A Way to Grieve" was written by Nina Segal and directed by Ugla Hauksdóttir

Where do these characters want to belong? That is the question being asked over and over again by the narrative. There has been no real consistency with the answer either. Every episode basically feels the urge to center the conflict around someone telling someone else that they need to run far away from whatever reality they have chosen to live in for the moment. The audience can rationalize those urges as well. Hanna told Clara to run away from this program because it was controlling her entire life and took her away from her family. Clara still ran away because she had longing for something more than Hanna could offer her. Hanna arrived at the Meadows ready to make the same argument. She faced different pressure. Clara is more steady in her life as Clemency. She has found acceptance with it. She also knows that Hanna can break free from this place if she chooses to do so. As such, she recognizes that it is an active choice on Hanna's part to stay. Sure, she has made several attempts to escape. That ended with Marissa being held prisoner by John. And yet, that is once again presented as an opportunity for Hanna and her allies. Marissa tells her that she has to trust her because she is the only one who genuinely cares about her. She makes the argument that Hanna knows what real family is. This isn't that. It's a life built on a false premise. It's painful to accept it because that would mean pushing the memory of Erik away. The other trainees embrace the fantasy. They understand that it is all a lie. And yet, it is comforting to have another person to talk to. They come to rely on these conversations with people posing as their loved ones. It presents as a connection to the outside world. One where the right answer is always just a click away. Sure, that communication is used as a weapon here. Terri uses the drama of Sandy's pretend sister dying in order to draw out an emotional response from Hanna. She understands that Hanna knows what real pain and loss is. With the other girls, it's all just a social construct. Something that they have imagined and can pretend to express the emotions. Hanna has actually lived it though. That may make her a better operative. It also makes her more of a liability for this program. Her skills are impressive. However, she has to fall in line to ensure that her inclusion will actually be beneficial in the end. Marissa breaks free believing that Hanna will stand firm against the temptation. Hanna really struggles though. She wants to embrace the happiness that the other girls have. She wants that simple life with a family. She is tired of running. That is the only life she has ever known. She is comforted at the thought of something more. She lets her guard down knowing that this reality could be more rewarding and fulfilling to her. It just comes across as the narrative going back-and-forth on what these characters actually want. Again, the argument is easy to make and understand when it comes to one character explaining to another how their decisions on where to belong are wrong. When it comes to the internal conflicts felt by these characters though, the drama relies heavily on the actors to convey the emotions. And yes, it can be effective. However, it still feels the pressure to include explosions and shocking gun shots in order to confirm what they are actually willing to choose. It still holds firm to the action thriller aspects of its storytelling. That means the tension always has to be heightened. That also means moments aren't quite given the time to breathe and show just how the decisions are made. Hanna has never really trusted Marissa. It isn't shocking to buy into the idea that she shot her in the arm. But it increasingly makes the argument that the show itself is just one big fantasy hopping from one idea to the next trying to make it compelling without finding enough consistency with each character journey. That is frustrating even though the pieces are all there to make it work in theory. Right now, the audience probably isn't wrong to suspect that Hanna will doubt the choice she made here and linger over the potential consequences of what it means to be a soldier alongside her friends. The other trainees could very well become her family. Making that choice right now just happens to mean she will enlist with whatever John hopes to achieve with the program. At this point in time, it should be more than just a covert assassin experiment. It needs to carry more life-altering repercussions to really put the stress on the narrative and who these characters are. The pressure just feels too repetitive at the moment as the story is trying to build to something.